Elias Mahmoudi, who was expected to challenge Superlek Kiatmoo9 for the latter's ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship on January 13 of next year, has withdrawn from the contest with a rib injury sustained in training.
The promotion hasn't yet announced whether a replacement opponent will be found for Superlek, which has at the moment left ONE Fight Night 18 without a single scheduled kickboxing or muay thai bout. The difficulty in finding an opponent for the Thai champion is certainly understandable – not many would be willing to face an opponent of such caliber on such a short notice, not to mention that Superlek has beaten every single fighter currently ranked in the ONE Championship Flyweight kickboxing division.
Albeit not confirmed, this does open up the possibility of Superlek stepping in to face Takeru Segawa at ONE 165 on January 28 however. According to rumors and hearsay from combat sports fans in Thailand, it would appear that the reigning ONE Flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who is expected to face Takeru in less than a month, has suffered an undisclosed injury to his left hand. The fact that Takeru's opponent-to-be has conspicuously kept his left arm out of sight in his social media posts and media appearances has further fueled these rumors.
Considering ONE Championship's return to Japan rests heavily upon Takeru's fame to sell tickets and bring in PPV purchases, his withdrawal from the event could reasonably be called catastrophic. As Superlek has been preparing for a fight for the past few months, has previous kickboxing experience, holds the ONE Kickboxing title and carries notoriety with kickboxing and combat sports fans, he would be the perfect opponent for the Japanese great – assuming, of course, that Rodtang is in fact unvailable.